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5 Ways to Quit Coffee and Boost Your Productivity

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5 Ways to Quit Coffee and Boost Your Productivity

I haven’t drunk coffee regularly in over a year. I’ll occasionally use it to push through a crazy short term project, but in the long run, I think it’s a bad bet. There are three main reasons for this:

  1. It’s Addictive. When you drink coffee regularly, you start to get hooked on it. Waking up without it becomes harder and harder since your body relies on the caffeine to get itself going. You forget how to fully energize yourself without a stimulant.
  2. It’s a Panacea. People turn to coffee when they feel tired or out of it instead of analyzing what might be causing them to be tired and out of it. Maybe they’re not sleeping enough, or not eating well, but if they always just turn to coffee, they’ll never fix these problems.
  3. It’s a Bad Trade-Off. When we think of coffee we normally think of the “peak” that comes from the caffeine hitting our system and making us more productive. But we forget about the slump that comes with it. Because of the slump, you’re actually more productive if you don’t drink coffee. Most of the time, this is what happens when we have a significant amount of caffeine:

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Coffee-effects-graph

    If you want to regain your productivity by quitting coffee, how do you do it? Everyone drinks coffee for different reasons, and your reason might be different than simply “for the energy.” Take a look at the list below, see where you fit, and then adjust accordingly.

    The Break Taker

    Sometimes we go get coffee simply as a way to take a break from work. It’s the modern version of a smoke break. You have a legitimate reason to leave your desk for 5 minutes since you need to stock back up on coffee. If you find that you’re going to get coffee just because you need a break from work, try spending those 5 minutes talking to a friend or going for a walk in nature. Both of these options will give you the short break you need, and help you return to work just as refreshed and energized as if you’d gotten a cup of coffee.

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    The Yawner

    Maybe you need the caffeine because you’re too tired to get through the work day without it. You have a cup right when you wake up and then keep drinking it throughout the day to keep up your energy. If this is you, then you should try addressing the problem at its core. What’s making you so tired all day? The most likely cause is not getting enough sleep, so see if you can adjust your schedule to get at least 7 hours each night. Once you’re better rested you’ll be much more productive and won’t be as reliant on the caffeine to get through the day.

    The Connoisseur

    Maybe you just love coffee for the taste. There’s nothing wrong with that. Coffee has a very diverse array of blends, roasts, flavors, and beans. But maybe you’re appreciation for it goes too far sometimes and you end up more wired than you’d like to be. If this is you, then try tea! With all the different types of tea leaves and all of the different regions you can get tea from, it’s even more diverse than coffee. You can even develop an appreciation for the different styles of making it, just as you can develop an appreciation for operating a fine espresso machine.

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    The Scatterbrain

    Maybe energy isn’t your problem, but focus is. It could be that you start working fully energized and ready to seize the day, but then find yourself checking Facebook, Twitter, email, texts, the news, etc. The caffeine helps you to focus in on what you need to do and blocks out those other distractions. If this is you, then you probably have a high stress level and tend to give in to your impulses to check all of your different apps and websites. Instead of using caffeine, try meditation. It helps quell the voices in your head pushing you to procrastinate, and doesn’t leave you exhausted from a caffeine crash.

    The Addict

    Maybe you started drinking coffee for one of these other reasons… but now you can’t stop. You just don’t feel like yourself when you’re “pre-caffeinated,” and the day doesn’t start until you’ve had your first cup. If this is you, then your body has turned down its own internal energizers since it knows you’re going to pump it full of caffeine every morning. You’ve become chemically reliant on caffeine to be at full energy. The fix here has to be slow and steady. Try reducing your intake by just one cup a week, and then eventually switching over to tea or water. If you quit cold turkey, you’ll feel terrible for a few days and it might not be worth the struggle. Slow and steady wins the race.

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    Now that you know which category you fall into, all you have to do is slowly shift towards a better solution to the problem you’re having. Soon you’ll be much less reliant on coffee, be more productive, and even save some money in the process.

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    Nat Eliason

    Nat is the founder of the marketing agency Growth Machine. He shares lifetyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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